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Global Change in Aridlands

Our global change research is motivated by the fact that aridlands[1] span diverse ecosystems on all continents, comprising over 40% of Earth’s terrestrial surface (i.e., 6.1 Bn ha), 44% of all cultivation, and one-third of the human population. Aridlands are also where impacts from climate change are expected to be relatively severe (e.g., California, Mexico, sub-Saharan Africa) compared to other global regions. Unfortunately, aridlands, especially aridland soils, remain vastly understudied relative to their area.

 

[1] Here, we define aridlands using the United Nations Environment Program Aridity Index (AI), where AI = Mean Annual Precipitation / Mean Annual Potential Evapotranspiration, and according to hyperarid (AI < 0.03, 7.5%), arid (0.03 – 0.2, 12.1%), semiarid (0.2 – 0.5, 17.7%), and dry sub-humid (0.5 – 0.65, 9.9%) climate classes (AI values, % global land area).